Donald Trump stumbled over the pronunciation of Worcester during ceremony for Bob Cousy

The Wizard of... what?

President Donald Trump shakes hands with former NBA basketball player and coach Bob Cousy, of the Boston Celtics, during a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Bob Cousy during a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony Thursday in the Oval Office. –Alex Brandon / AP

President Donald Trump’s mispronunciation of certain places and words has been scrutinized in the past, but he’s hardly the first to struggle when it comes to Worcester.

During a White House ceremony Thursday afternoon to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Boston Celtics great Bob Cousy, the president was reading from written remarks recalling the Holy Cross alum’s early basketball-playing days when he encountered the puzzling spelling of New England’s second-largest city.

After a brief pause, Trump gave it his best guess.

“By the end of his collegiate career, the Wizard of ‘Werster’ was a three-time All-American and was on his way into being drafted into the NBA,” he said.


Werster? Perhaps he should have gone with Cousy’s more common nicknames, like Mr. Basketball or the Houdini of the Hardwood.

Trump did recover from there to deliver a seemingly well-received speech honoring Cousy, who returned to live in Worcester after his basketball career. The correct pronunciation of the 91-year-old’s home city is something along the lines of “Wuster” with the first “r” silent.

As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, Worcester’s spelling and pronunciation routinely trips up new residents, government officials, and even local newspapers. The name dates back to Worcester, England.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump’s actually visited Worcester for a rally at the city’s DCU Center. He collectively addressed the crowd as “Massachusetts.”